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Joel B. Levinson Photographs

What’s online?

This collection contains images dating between the 1950s and 1998 that highlight Levinson’s prolific career in documenting the city of Pittsburgh, its environs (built and natural), activities, people, and surrounding area including Downtown, Pitt, CMU, Kennywood, Fallingwater, the Three Rivers Regatta, and The Great Race.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Joel B. Levinson Photographs are comprised of approximately 7,000 items and includes photographic prints, slides, negatives, positives, and manuscript materials related to his photography of the Pittsburgh region and the publications that resulted. Items date from 1968 to 2006 with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1984, along with Lynn Johnson, Levinson published his first photographic essay entitled Pittsburgh Moments. His interest in documenting numerous aspects of Pittsburgh increased to a self-described "love affair with the city." Around this time, he began producing calendars, postcards, and prints of the Pittsburgh region under the name Pittsburghscape. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Levinson, alongside assistant Susan Nega, photographed Pittsburgh’s landscape, events, attractions, and residents. Levinson and Nega jointly managed their commercial photography business, J.B. Jeffers Ltd. In 1991, Levinson released another photographic essay, Pittsburgh: Views between the Rivers, which he updated and expanded in 1996 under the new title Pittsburgh: Views into the 21st Century.

In 2000, he moved to Boulder, Co., to be closer to family. Levinson revised the essay again in 2004, including additional photographs and modifying the text to reflect the changing city which he still photographed when visiting. Pittsburgh: Views in the 21st Century was Levinson’s last homage to the city he dearly loved. While Levinson is the primary photographer, the work of Levinson's assistant (Susan Nega), his sons (Jeff and Drew), along with John Beale, Leo Hsu, and Norman Schumm are also included in the collection, but do not appear online.

About Joel B. Levinson

Joel B. Levinson was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1934, where he remained for most of his life. His varied career included working as a businessman, an engineer, industrial appraiser, and a photographer. After graduating from Carnegie Tech in 1956, Levinson married Toba Goldenfeld in 1957. In 1958 he began working for Levinson Steel, the nationally-known company founded in 1902 by his grandfather, where he remained until the company was sold in 1983. In the late 1970s, Levinson began extensively photographing the structures and people of the Pittsburgh region. Levinson's passion for photography was passed along to his children and grandchildren, many of whom have become photographers as well. He passed away on October 26, 2007 in Boulder.

Levinson loved to document his hometown and was a frequent fixture at cultural and sporting events such as the Pittsburgh Marathon, Vintage Grand Prix, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and Three Rivers Regatta. He was particularly struck by the Pittsburgh skyline and would return to the same locations many times over the course of his career to capture Pittsburgh's evolving landscapes and built environments.

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